July 2007 issue

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Maltese promise

Malta's English language schools continue to welcome increasing numbers of international students, and several government initiatives promise further market expansion in the future. Gillian Evans reports.

The Maltese English language teaching market continued to grow in 2006 with international student numbers up by a healthy seven per cent to 65,966, according to Malta’s National Statistics Office. The market’s positive performance was largely due to the organic growth of the industry, although some schools outperformed the overall market, boosting turnover through their sales and marketing strategies.

At AM Language Studio in Sliema, student numbers were up by 25 per cent in 2006, according to Julian Cassar Torregiani at the school. “Main motivators [for this increase],” he says, “are that Malta is still gaining popularity as an EFL destination and AM Language Studio is offering very competitive rates for a variety of packages.”

Attracted by the buoyancy of the English language teaching market, recent years have witnessed a mushrooming of new schools, all eager to secure a slice of the action. The Chamber College for Educational Services in Gzira, which was launched in 2005, experienced a 35 per cent increase in bookings in 2006 over the previous year, and forecasts a further increase of 48 per cent by the end of 2007, according to Trevor Naudi, Marketing Manager at the college.

Without doubt, the rise in newcomers has taken its toll on the established players, as John Dimech, President of the school’s association, Feltom, and General Manager at the Institute of English Language Studies (IELS), LAL Malta, in Sliema, freely admits. “In view of the stiff competition in the Maltese Market we [IELS] lost a bit of our market share and obviously it is never easy to win it back,” relates Dimech. However, Dimech forecasts a healthy 14 per cent hike in enrolments for year-end 2007.

A positive trend experienced by many Maltese schools is demand for premium-priced products. Marie Montanaro at EC English Language Centre in Ta’Xbiex states that sales of their one-to-one courses were up by 34 per cent in 2006. “This increase has been brought forward mainly by students who decide to further their studies by taking extra one-to-one classes after their main lessons,” she adds. Similarly, Rebecca Brincat at BELS in Gozo says they have experienced higher demand for their individual courses, particularly for executives.

Another trend experienced by some players is that of longer stays. Anna Briffa from Britannia College in Valetta says that, although their student numbers did not “increase dramatically” in 2006, “longer courses are being booked”. She continues, “We had fewer groups and more individuals so actually our turnover was 60 per cent higher than that of the previous year.”

Looking at nationalities, the main bulk of students still come from European Union (EU) countries, and this looks set to continue for a number of reasons, including Malta adopting the euro as its official currency and entering the Schengen borderless travel zone by 2008, and a growth in the number of low-cost flights from mainland Europe to Malta. But Malta is also attracting more students from other world regions. “While the top student nationalities at EC Malta are Russian and Swiss,” reports Monatanaro, “2007 is showing a positive increase in student heads from Korea and also South America.”

Malta may well further improve its positioning in these markets thanks to the introduction of long-stay visas for non-EU students, which came into effect last year. ”[Previous] visa regulations were hampering requests that Maltese language schools were receiving from countries that were outside the EU and Commonwealth,” says Cassar Torregiani. “The introduction of this new visa should help increase non-EU student numbers.”

For the Chamber College, the new visa has already brought increased bookings from Russia and China, but on the whole, it has, as yet, had a limited effect on the market. Burrell argues that this is because students “still have to report to the Immigration Office every three months, and sometimes study visas are issued for periods of time shorter than the amount of time students are booked to stay”.

Another visa initiative may also boost the market. Malta has recently signed an agreement with Austria, which allows applications for the issue of visas to Malta to be handled by the Austrian Consular Office in the 26 countries where Malta does not have an embassy or a consular office itself. Dimech says, “This will increase the network of consular offices and this, together with the long-stay visas, should facilitate the procedure to apply for an entry visa.”

Host family tax hits hard

Last year, the Maltese government announced plans to tax income derived from providing host family accommodation to students. The way in which the news was reported, coupled with the timing of the announcement, which was just before the summer season, could not have been worse, resulting in many host families backing out as host providers.

Trevor Naudi at the Chamber College for Educational Services in Gzira explains that the new method of taxation “increased the expenses for host families making the possibility of hosting students less profitable then ever before”.

Julian Cassar Torregiani at AM Language Studio in Sliema is critical of the way the government handled the situation. “With hindsight, the real reason for [the drop in host families] was that the authorities procrastinated far too long and did not issue clear guidelines to existing host families.” For 2007, the situation has improved, although good quality host families remain in short supply. To address the problem, Feltom is planning to run an information campaign for host families, which will seek to clear up any misinterpretations of the new ruling. Feltom President, John Dimech, explains, “We are hoping to launch a campaign with the help of the Malta Tourism Authority to change the host families’ perception that they would be paying a lot of tax if they host students. It would point out that they could miss out on earning extra income should they drop out. The emphasis on quality standards will also be part of the campaign.”

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.





Boa Lingua
CI - Central de Intercâmbio
Discover Canada
ESL - Séjours Linguistiques
TK Tours

Capls Canada
English Australia
Quality English

CareMed International Travel Insurance
Student Guard Insurance

Malta Tourism Authority

Alphe Conferences
CEC Network

English Australia
English Language Company

Academie Linguistique International
Algonquin College Ottawa
Bodwell College
Cowichan Valley School District #79
East Coast School of
      Languages (ECSL)
English Bay College
English Language Training College ELTC
Eurocentres Canada
Global Village
(Australia, Canada, USA)
Ilac - International Language Academy of Canada
International Language
      Schools of Canada (ILSC)
Intrax English Institute
Language Studies Canada
Lethbridge Community College
London Language Institute
Malaspina University College
National School of Languages
Pacific Language Institute
Richmond School District #38
Saint Mary's University
Saskatoon Catholic Schools
Stewart College of Languages
Study English in Canada
University Canada West
University of Toronto
Vancouver Community College
       International Education
Vancouver English Centre
Vanwest College
York University English
       Language Institute

American Intercontinental
       University, London
      (Australia, Canada, Ireland, Malta,
      New Zealand, UK, USA)
Bell International
InTuition Languages
       (Australia, France, Germany,
       Ireland, Italy, South America,
       Spain, UK, USA)
Islington Centre for English
LAL Language and Leisure
      (England, Malta, South Africa, USA)
Liverpool International
      Language Academy
Malvern House College London
Millfield School
Quality English
Queen Ethelburga's College
Sels College London
Southwark College
St Giles Colleges
      (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group
      (Australia, Canada, England,
      France, Germany, Ireland, Italy,
      New Zealand, South Africa,
      Spain, USA)
Twin Group
University of Westminster
West London Business College

France Langue
French in Normandy
Home Language International
      (Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil,
      Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic,
      Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France,
      Germany, Holland, Hungary, Ireland,
      Italy, Japan, Malta, NZ, Norway,
      Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain,
      Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA,
Institut Linguistique Adenet
SILC - Séjours Linguistiques
     (England, France, Spain)

Carl Duisberg Centren
      (England, Germany)
F+U Academy
      (Austria, Germany, Russia)
Humboldt Institut
inlingua Berlin
International House Berlin - Prolog
Lichtenberg Kolleg E.V

Atlantic Language Galway
Centre of English Studies

EC English Language Centre
      (England, Malta, South Africa)
inlingua Malta

Christchurch College of
      English Language
Languages International
Riccarton High School
Seafield School of English
University of Canterbury

EAC Language Centres
      and Activity Camps
      (England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales)

Cape Studies
Good Hope Studies

Babylon Idiomas
      (Argentina, Costa Rica, Spain)
      (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica,
      Cuba, Ecuador, Dominican Republic,
      Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Spain)
International House Sevilla - CLIC
Malaca Instituto - Club Hispánico SL

EF Language Colleges Ltd
      (Australia, Canada, China, Ecuador,
      England, France, Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, Malta, New Zealand, Russia,
      Scotland, Spain, USA)
      (Australia, Canada, England, France,
      Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malta,
      New Zealand, Russia, South Africa,
      Spain, Switzerland, USA)

ALCC - American Language
      Communication Center
Kaplan Educational Centers
      (Canada, UK, USA)
Zoni Language Centers
      (Canada, USA)


Global Lifestyles
IH Vancouver

IH Newcastle
Tellus Group
Twin Group

Malta Tourism Authority